Ginty Goff (played by Annie Rose Buckley) is a happy little girl with golden curls and an infectious giggle. She lives a carefree life in Australia with her banker father Travers Goff (by Colin Farrell) and her mother Margaret (by Ruth Wilson). Hers is an idyllic childhood, full of stories, fantasy, games and love. She idolises her father and he, in turn, thinks the world of his daughter. As years pass, Travers’ working life becomes more difficult and he turns to alcohol for comfort. Ginty watches as her father’s world slowly turns in on itself and he first loses his job then his health. When her father is too ill to work, her mother arranges for a Nurse/Governess (by Rachel Griffiths) – she arrives, surrounded by an aura of mystery and magic. Ginty is enchanted by her and as she grows, her childhood memories crystallise into a story which gets published and becomes one of the most loved children’s tales of all time … “Mary Poppins” – under Ginty’s pen name, P. L. Travers. Over several years, “Mrs Travers” (by Emma Thompson) is sought out by Walt Disney. He wants to keep to a promise he made to his own daughters – to have their cherished book created into a movie. But Mrs Travers is reluctant to release her much loved childhood memories into the hands of the Hollywood Movie-makers … to do “heaven knows what …” with her dear Mary Poppins. Try as she might, she puts every barrier she can think of in the way of the movie … but by 1961, her books aren’t quite as popular any more and she is starting to reconsider …. will the real joy in the telling of the story win out after all?
When I watched this movie, I saw something totally different to what I was expecting. I thought I’d see a jolly, happy, colourful, family romp through the songs of “Mary Poppins” set against the backdrop of a lovely family and a “happy ever after” …. but no, I had to look again. This is a drama – Mrs Travers harbours some very deep memories that haunt her, but she doesn’t want to let go of them either – her only connection with her dear father is in the pages of the book she has written. As Mrs Travers, Emma Thompson is impeccable – that wonderful “British-ness” she brings to the performance is great. As Walt Disney, Tom Hanks is believable – he usually is authentic in his roles though. Here, his Disney is a positive, family oriented man, but he brings his own life experiences to the story. It’s great to hear the classic music from the movie once again and the work by the “Sherman Brothers” as they play through some of the memorable songs is really enjoyable. The performance of Paul Giamatti as Ralph, Mrs Travers’ driver in Hollywood, is equally good and I enjoyed Bradley Whitford as Don DaGradi also. The long suffering assistant of Walt Disney, Dolly, played by Melanie Paxson is a delight. Overall, it’s a surprisingly good movie – perhaps a little too long, but I can live with that.
Made in 2013. Directed by John Lee Hancock